The hottest new recreational trail in the Twin Cities metro area officially opens Saturday.

Public use of the Brown's Creek State Trail began last fall after paving was completed on the 5.8-mile route, which links downtown Stillwater with the Gateway State Trail in the neighboring city of Grant. Saturday's observance, however, kicks off a five-day celebration that recognizes the trail's strategic location and its significant tourism potential for Stillwater.

The 18-mile Gateway trail begins in St. Paul, travels northeast through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, and ends at Pine Point Regional Park 4 miles northwest of Stillwater. The Brown's Creek trail is expected to funnel 75,000 people a year into Stillwater, many of them coming from the Gateway trail.

"We are so excited to welcome cyclists to pedal from the birthplace of Minnesota to the capital of the state enjoying scenery from the St. Croix River to the Mississippi River through rural landscapes in an urban setting," said Jerry Helmberger, president of the Stillwater Convention & Visitor Bureau.

The grand opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the trailhead at the north end of Main Street, near the former depot for the Minnesota Zephyr dinner train. The trail follows the same corridor the train used for about 20 years.

The ceremony will include art projects for children, speakers and a ribbon-cutting. Also Saturday will be a National Trails Day event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. People using the trail can visit with a naturalist at five separate pullouts.

Other public events:

• Sunday at 1 p.m. at Brown's Creek Nature Preserve at Neal Avenue — Geocaching 101.

• Monday at 1 p.m. at the preserve — Nature Through a Camera Lens.

• Tuesday at 7 a.m. at the preserve — Birds of Brown's Creek State Trail. Bring binoculars.

• Wednesday, June 10, at 10 a.m. at the preserve — Wildflower and Plant Walk.

• Thursday, June 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the preserve — Brown's Creek Watershed District Ice Cream Social.

• Friday, June 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the preserve — Thursday Evening Trail Ride.